Is this Monday? It's awesome!

Picture this scene:
It's Monday evening at a large restaurant. It's packed, it's loud and it's standing-room only as people wait for tables. I'm eating alone at the bar and I have a great view of the kitchen where servers - lots of them - are in constant, rapid motion and in continuous communication with other staff. It's remarkable that people aren't running into each other let alone hearing one another. It's that crazy. Like an ant colony. The energy level is off the charts. To the casual observer it would seem like total chaos but nobody seems to notice because nothing is wrong. Customers are happy. Food and drink arrive when they should. Service is great. 

Then I hear the following exchange between two employees behind the bar as they quickly pass each other tending to their responsibilities:   
Employee One (smiling and chipper): "Is this a Monday?" (an obvious reference to how crazy crowded it is).
Employee Two: Yeah, isn't it awesome!"

As I more closely observe the restaurant staff - hostesses, servers, bartenders, cooks - I noticed a few things:
  1. Everyone is visibly happy, upbeat and cheerful. They seemed to be having a great time.
  2. Everyone is working fast, hard and with remarkable efficiency, yet still able to make eye contact with patrons and have short but personable exchanges.
Crowds like this bring most restaurants to a standstill and employees to a breaking point - or at least to the point of being visibly stressed, unhappy and short-tempered with customers. Yet, this crew seemed to thrive on it.

All right, what's going on?  I had to find out.  I asked my server/bartender a few questions which I paraphrase below. She politely answered all of my questions while tending to her job of pouring drinks, processing checks, removing empty plates, wiping down the bar, etc. etc.

Me: Was it hard to get a job here?
Her: Not really, if you have some experience.
Me: What was the interviewing process like? Did you have to take any assessments?
Her: Assessments? (as in what the #$%@ are you talking about?) No, just an application and an interview.
Me: Is the pay good?
Her (smiling): Pay? I'm a waitress.

Then I explained why I was asking the questions, how impressed I was with the operation and how I just wanted to understand what made this place work so effectively.

Her: We get a lot of training and our managers are really good and supportive.
Me: But it's nuts here tonight and I don't see any of the staff the slightest bit frazzled or upset.
Her (looking me in the eye and smiling): We're not allowed to.

I'm now getting it. These are professionals. They excel at their job, even in adversity. They take their work very seriously. And they have great management and they get lots of support and training.

We can sometimes make HR so complicated - and it can be. But on this Monday evening, I was reminded of the basics by five words exchanged between two twenty-somethings: Is this Monday? It's awesome!
 Post by HRmarketer / SocialEars Founder and CEO Mark Willaman. Join Mark on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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